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The thought of studying in Europe kind of freaks me out, but what you, @TMP, and @laleph are saying makes sense. I'm actively terrible at learning other languages, though (one of the big struggles I'm foresee with any history-focused program, though reading in another language is the one facet I am less terrible at picking up). Thank you for your thoughtful response, @Sigaba. I spent some time over the summer trying to get my bearings regarding the different disciplinary boundaries of the fields I'm interested in, and I still don't really have a detailed sense of the answers to that question. Do you have any recommendations as far as papers I could read that might help me get a better sense? Your comments about framing my work are very helpful, I will definitely keep that in mind as I start working on my SOPs in the next month or so.
I have looked into this some, but most of the history MAs I looked at at least expect you to have SOME prior history coursework, and I have absolutely none, except maybe for one literature course that strongly emphasized historicism. So I'm not even sure if it's worth applying to history MAs, if they are just going to tell me, "You need to pay X amount to take some classes for a semester or two before you can even start our MA program." If I had that kinda money I would, but I just don't. I was always told "The classes you take during undergrad don't really limit you in the future," but it seems like they actually do. I have done a good bit of independent reading related to my historical interests: the history of psychiatry/mental health in the US, LGBT history, and the intersection of the two fields. For my undergraduate thesis I did some historical analysis with primary sources, close reading of some published letters and official documents that were fairly easily accessible and directly related to my topic, but I didn't do any archival work or anything along those lines. I'm very interested in getting training in historical methods and perspectives to sharpen my overall interdisciplinary approach, but I'm thinking my best bet is to focus on interdisciplinary graduate programs with a historical element, like history and philosophy of science programs or UPenn's History and Sociology of Science program. I'm already planning on applying to UChicago's Conceptual and Historical Studies of Science PhD, but I'm wondering if I should also apply to the MAPPS program directly? It does look really appealing to me, for helping me figure out what I want to do next in case my PhD applications are all a bust, but I suspect I wouldn't be able to qualify for 2/3 for 100 percent funding, and I don't think I'm interested in taking out $40k in loans. I'd be okay taking out a huge chunk of loans if I knew I would be able to get an okay job in 10 years or whatever, but realistically I understand that going outside disciplinary boundaries like that can make it a lot harder to get a job, so I don't want to shoot myself in the foot by also taking out a bajillion dollars in loans for MAs.
I'm working on my list of schools to apply to right now. I am applying to science studies-type programs, programs with a lot of support for interdisciplinary work. I know that I want to do some mix of sociology/philosophy/history of science/medicine, but narrowing it down from there is hard. My two "definites" are UCSD (Sociology - Science Studies) and Northwestern; I'm also looking at History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine at Indiana - Bloomington, and History and Sociology of Science at UPenn. My BA is in Psychology, though I did take some sociology classes. I don't have any philosophy or history coursework, I just am interested in more training in those approaches after doing a lot of independent reading on my area of interest. To be honest, I'm not even sure I want to go into the field of sociology -- a lot of sociological theory seems either so convoluted to be meaningless or of limited use. For example, most of the classic theorists just seem kinda useless to me, while some of the crit theory just seems so intentionally confusing that it's hard for me to take seriously. On the other hand, I love Latour, who a lot of people might put in the bucket of "intentionally confusing and overly convoluted," so go figure. I take a pretty pragmatic approach to theory, drawing from different fields as it seems useful, and there is certainly some sociological theory that I find useful. As for methods, I have no problem getting trained in quantitative approaches, because even if I'm not using them myself they are helpful for analyzing other social science research, and while some qualitative methodologies seem hand-wavy I probably will end up using some of them in my own work. So I have a pretty ambivalent feelings, but I'm starting to realize that choosing a disciplinary "home base" is really going to be about who will accept me, not based on the raw percentage of work done in that field that I appreciate. There is a pretty big tent in terms of the range of theoretical and methodological approaches that are considered "Sociology," as far as I can tell. Is that obnoxious to say?